Luna Noor posing with street art in Georgetown
Penang is a state on the northwest coast of Malaysia. It has about 1.7 million inhabitants and is highly urbanized and industrialized. Georgetown is the capital city on Penang Island. Mostly Malay and Chinese people live there, but also Indian and other ethnicities. The religions that are practiced are Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Cristian and Taoist faith. We got to visit/see some of the top attractions like Georgetown (streetart) and the Goddness of Mercy Statue and Gurney Drive Other than doing sightseeing for one day (hop on- hop off bus) in Georgetown we were quite lazy and stayed by the pool or the seaside nearby our hotel… 🙂
Luna Noor and some other beautiful flowers in Penang
Temple nearby Goddess of Mercy Statue
Emeric Philip in front of the Laccadive sea (Indian Ocean)
We had two lazy days in Negombo before leaving Sri Lanka. Negombo is a relaxed city close to the capital Colombo. We spent two days and 3 nights by the Laccadive Sea (Indian Ocean) eating late breakfasts, sitting on the dock morning and evening sharing good time talking, trying the local Tuk Tuks, visiting the city center with its markets, having late dinners. Just spending time to gather new energy… 🙂
Luna Noor and Ib Margido chatting in front of the sea
In Kandy town, earlier the capital of Sri Lanka, we had to visit the downtown, the sweetest Kandy Lake, the Tooth Relic Temple and the Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha Statue up in the mountainside of the city. The Tooth Relic Temple is one of the most sacred Buddha worship places in Sri Lanka as the story tells us the Buddha’s tooth is inside the temple. The Bahiravokanda Buddha Statue is not too old and built by monks from the area.
Ib Margido and Luna Noor relaxing on top of The Lion Rock Fortress
On our way from Kalkudah to Kandy, we had to stop at some of the main attractions in Sri Lanka. These are called, the Lion Rock Fortress in Sigiriya and the The Cave Temple in Dambulla. The history of these two attractions are quite unique. In short, the Lion Rock Fortress is a 200 meter high massive rock. In the 5th century the king of Sri Lanka Kasyapa, wanted this place to be his new capital and built an urban city with impressing architecture at the foot of this rock. On top of the rock he built a palace to keep him safe… The Cave Temple in Dambulla consists of 5 caves and they have altogether 153 Buddha statues and are full of paintings on the walls and ceilings. Before these caves were dedicated Buddha and his life (when Buddhism arrived Sri Lanka), findings show that ancient Sri Lankians have lived in the caves as there has been found 2700 years old sceletons burried nearby…
On the east coast of Sri Lanka we found a gem of a secret escape. The stunningly beautiful beaches and waterfronts makes you lose track of time in pure admiration. Furthermore, the hotels, swimming pools, beachfront restaurants, palms, coconuts, white sand, hammocks and corals makes you wonder if this actually is for real… We spent a whole week in this paradise after 4 days of thunderstorms in Mumbai. Pure magic and a paradise on earth! Lazy days were spent in the sun, swimming, eating delicious food, relaxing in hammocks and sun beds, playing volleyball and football on the beach, driving water scooters, reading books, taking pictures, writing blog, playing card games, sleeping, talking, laughing, meditating and daydreaming. A wonderful break in our otherwise quite hectic schedule of travelling around the world – wanting to see, explore and understand as much as possible from the different countries, cultures, landscapes, architectures and religions that we possibly can.
Gateway of India
Arriving Mumbai in thunderstorms and monsoon rains put a swift brake on our many plans to see various attractions in this city of contrasts. As the population in Mumbai is estimated to be over 19 million, and the biggest city in India, there is no doubt that these people live under different conditions. Unfortunately the weather did not encourage us to leave the hotel for more than one day to do sightseeing, we did not visit to many spots of interest. Some attractions however we did take a closer look at. These were, the Gateway of India, Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Marine Drive, Chowpatty Beach, the Bandra-Worli Sea Link and Hadji Ali Mosque. 🙂 Other interesting sights such as the movie Mekka Bollywood, the Elefanta Island and the Mumbay slum we have to visit another time.
The Bandra-Worli Sea Link
What a thrill to go from Agra to Varanasi by train. We spent a whole day watching the amazingly green and lush landscape spread out as the train rolled through village after village. Arriving Varanasi was even more spectacular. In the evening we were picked up at the train station by hotel employees for a one hour trip by car to a street nearby our hotel. To get to the hotel we had to go for about 10 minutes. What an amazing new world that was to us. The narrow streets full of people, animals, dirt, shops and temples made a huge impression on us all. This over 4000 year old city known as “the city of light” is one of the most sacred cities of the world today and is seen by devotees as “the home of Shiva”. The legend even tells us that the God Shiva founded Varanasi. The city rises from the many stone steps up from the Ganges river and is as colourful, chaotic, full of houses, temples, narrow streets, aroma, people, different animals and holy cows you can only imagine. Devoted Indians come here either to wash away their sins for a lifetime in the river Ganges or to cremate their loved ones in the belief that they will achieve the salvation of the soul from the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. We will never forget this city for as long as we shall live – and I personally adored it! During our stay our superb guide Prakash gave us the history of different temples, shops, weaving factories for making saris, the main cremation place, the university and the evening rituals with thousands of lights floating on the Ganges river. Thank you sooooo much! 🙂
Taj Mahal in Agra
After driving about 200 km – using 6 hours!! – we arrived in our hotel in Agra. 🙂 If we thought that New Delhi was loud, this was nothing compared to what we experienced in Agra. Still the number of inhabitants is not more than around 1.4 million people. A hectic and colourful city center met us while arriving in the evening. Our number one adventure in Agra was of course Taj Mahal. And no wonder – what a beautiful and magnificent building. And what a story connected to it. Shah Jahan (Mughal emperor) built this ivory-white marble mausoleum in memory of his favourite wife Arjumand Banu Begum also called Mumtaz Mahal. She died after giving birth to their 14th child. The name Taj Mahal means Crown Palace and was named after Muntaz Mahal. Another attraction we were fortunate to see is the amazing Agra Fort. Finally we experienced the celebration of the return of the God Ganesha to the river – a colourful and lively happening. Lots of people were in the streets playing load music, dancing and putting colour in their own faces and those passing by… 🙂
Jama Masjid Mosque, New Delhi
We arrived New Delhi in the afternoon by plane from Hong Kong. The trip was nice and we where quite surprised to see so few tall buildings from the sky while arriving. There are about 17 million people living in the Delhi area, making it the next biggest city in India. When visiting some of the main attractions we saw nearly only small buildings and streets crowded by people, rickshaws, cows, goats, camels and cars. The cars and rickshaws were honking their horns all the time making a super-loud sound. We visited three famous attractions named Jama Masjid Mosque, the Red Fort and the Lotus Temple. Another place we were lucky to explore right next to our hotel was the Shiv Murti Mandir Complex where beautiful statues of Shiva and other Hindu Gods could be admired.
Statues of Gods in Shiv Murti Mandir Complex
Hong Kong by night
We had a great stay in Hong Kong because of Zinni, her family and friend Jessie. Thanks a lot to all of you! They guided us both during day and nighttime for many days and we were happy to learn lots about different kind of tasteful food and most of the attractions in Hong Kong. They showed us The Peak, Hong Kong Skyline, the Avenue of stars, Ladies marked, The Clock Tower, the Tian Tan Buddha, and the Po Lin Monastery- What a great adventure! Hong Kong is buzzing with life from morning till nighttime – nonstop! It has an international atmosphere and you feel alive only watching the people around you talking, playing and laughing.
The Tian Tan Buddha in Landau Island in Hong Kong